Mikko Franck, a representative of the extremely high-powered Finnish conducting school, burst onto the music scene like a bolt of lightning. The programme will combine music by French classics with the world premiere of a piece by Kryštof Mařatka. Based in Paris and Prague, the Czech composer was inspired in this work by images of prehistoric cave paintings; he wrote the piece for violinist Amaury Coeytaux as a joint commission from the Prague Spring and Radio France.
Before the concert at 7.00 pm, there will be a pre-concert talk (in Czech) with Kryštof Mařatka
Mikko Franck began his professional career when he was only seventeen years of age. By the time he was twenty-three he had already given debuts with all the major Scandinavian orchestras, the London Symphony Orchestra and the Israel Philharmonic. The press described him as the most talented young conductor since the early days of Sir Simon Rattle. Now 45, he will appear before Czech audiences for the very first time – and this with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, which he has headed since 2015.
Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France excels for its incredibly nuanced tone culture. When the orchestra opened the Prague Spring in 2013, not only did they enchant the audience in the Smetana Hall of Municipal House, but also the music critics. “You hear a wide range of sound colours, which the musicians themselves play around with. The flute section delights in the moment they hand the music over to the violins, then the violins pass it on to the clarinettists, and the sound of one section seems effortlessly to glide into another,” wrote Petr Kadlec for the Aktuálně.cz website. These are the qualities that render the orchestra an ideal performer of the French repertoire, characteristic for its sophisticated instrumentation and sense of timbre.
With Mikko Franck at the helm, the orchestra will here present two works by Maurice Ravel, written for Sergei Diaghilev’s celebrated Ballets Russes: the second suite from the ballet Daphnis and Chloé and the dance poem La valse, both an ecstatic and ironic homage to the Viennese waltz. This special concert will open with the energetic Overture No. 2 in E flat major by Louise Farrenc, the French Romantic composer and pupil of Antonín Rejcha (Anton Reicha), whose music has deservedly enjoyed increasing popularity in recent years.
The soloist of the evening will be French violinist Amaury Coeytaux. The pupil of Jean-Jacques Kantorow and Pinchas Zukerman is described by the British magazine The Strad as an artist of “great musical sensitivity, flawless technique and warm sound.” Coeytaux gave his debut at Carnegie Hall at a mere nine years of age. As leader of the world-famous Modigliani Quartet he has appeared in some of the world’s most prestigious concert venues, including London’s Wigmore Hall, the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg and Vienna’s Konzerthaus. Performing in Prague on his Stradivarius from 1715 he will give the premiere of a violin concerto by Kryštof Mařatka: With its mysterious title SANCTUARIES – In the Depths of Cave Paintings, the piece is inspired by prehistoric art, images preserved in caves and dating back tens of thousands of years.
“It’s wonderful to observe how resourcefully Stone Age man was able to record the world he lived in,” states the composer. “Unexpectedly, surprisingly skilfully, with sensitivity and with a fascinating inner strength that radiates from the preserved artwork. Do we understand it? Are we able to read it?” Each of the five movements represents the composer’s personal perspective on a specific artefact discovered in one of five well-known caves – for example, the image of bulls in the Lascaux Cave, the lions in the Chauvet Cave, or the flutes from the Isturitz Cave. “His aim isn’t to depict his world, or even to imitate it,” Mařatka explains. “He simply wants to draw attention to its uniqueness and, in doing so, to touch upon the timeless values connecting past and future civilisations.”